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Mum, I want to be a Martian


How the Honey & Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire could assist with the selection of candidates to embark on a one way trip to Mars, scheduled for 2025.

Mars One, one of several ambitious projects to send the first humans on a one way trip to the Red Planet, intends to hold a reality TV show to help choose the final 40 people. As the venture attracted 200,000 people to the first round of applications, involving us all in it seems rather appropriate.

The Mars One mission roadmap intends for the first wave of people to land on the surface in 2025, after eight years training and a 210 day flight. As mentioned, this will be a one way journey.

This raises some pertinent questions. What type of person would be suitable? How will they manage? Who will do what? What skills and strengths will each one offer? How might they work as a team?


Wish you were here?


The Learning Style Questionnaire

Based upon the work of David Kolb, the Peter Honey LSQ, widely used within corporations and academia here on Earth, would be a useful and accessible method to ascertain the aspiring astronauts’ preferred learning style; Activist, Theorist, Pragmatist or Reflector.

Emphasis is placed on concentrating on areas requiring development – a focus is placed on the fluidity of continuous improvement.


LSQ results

If a candidate’s LSQ results looked like Eddie’s (Figure 1 below), with a dominant Reflector (100%) style, followed closely by Pragmatist (90%) and Theorist (85%), it can be argued that they could be an ideal candidate for the mission, due to the fairly rounded nature of their results.  


Figure 1 – Eddie’s LSQ Results


I'm just a Reflector

As a Reflector, Eddie would be likely to enjoy activities involving researching and evaluating, thinking before acting and conducting analysis. These traits would suit a lot of the day to day tasks required of the settlers.

Conversely, Reflectors may struggle to produce a quick idea or take action in an emergency as they find it difficult to take initiative in a situation without having time to plan - imagine a likely scenario where something vital breaks; maybe equipment essential to air supply and it has to be fixed rapidly to ensure survival. Eddie could find this situation extremely stressful and not perform to the satisfactory level.


Questions to ask 

As well as highlighting these characteristics, LSQ feedback provides the candidate with questions to consider, thus enabling them to address areas of potential development.

Examples of Reflector questions would be: Will I be given adequate time to consider and prepare data? Will I have time to prepare and not be under pressure? Will I be able to gather information?


Pragmatist Style

Also exhibiting a strong Pragmatist style, Eddie would enjoy activities where there is an obvious practical advantage, e.g. how to save time, how to deal with awkward people, how to repair tools.

He would also appreciate being taught by someone he could trust, suggesting that given the right characters to work with, he could work collaboratively.

However, Pragmatists may toil when there are no clear guidelines on how to achieve something, suggesting that they may find ‘thinking outside the box’ difficult.

They may also find it hard to overcome personal or political obstacles, suggesting a potential issue when they are housed within the close confines of others (a potential problem on a small outpost which is on average 225 million km away from Earth), particularly those with conflicting learning styles.


Questions to ask Pragmatists

Will I be exposed to experts who can teach me? Will I be addressing real problems and will it result in tangible solutions to tackle some of my current problems?


For part two of this post, see Mum, I still want to be a Martian


Matt Stevens



Learning Styles

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